Quick and digital: Berlin wants to triple number of naturalisations per year
The returning government in Berlin wants to speed up the process for applying for German citizenship in the federal state, to bring the number of naturalisations from 7.000 to more than 20.000 per year.
Citizenship application process to be expedited in Berlin
The SPD, the Greens and the Left (sometimes called the “red-red-green” coalition after the party’s respective colours) want to boost the number of people who are naturalised in Berlin in the coming years. This was announced this week by representatives from the three parties, who agreed upon the policy during their coalition negotiations.
Unveiling the plans, SPD state party leader Franziska Giffey said that around 400.000 permanent residents of Berlin currently meet the criteria for obtaining German citizenship, but the current speed of processing applications, which varies significantly from district to district, means that far too many people are kept waiting.
The parties want to simplify and accelerate the process of applying for German citizenship, for instance by making it possible to complete some steps online. They are also angling to transfer responsibility for granting naturalisations from the individual districts to the city administration, helping to standardise the process across the entire city. Applicants should receive a decision within three months.
“We want a functioning city for everyone who lives here,” said Bettina Jarasch, state party leader of the Greens. “That also applies to those who don’t yet have a German passport, and those who have immigrated here.”
Incoming government could liberalise citizenship laws
The proposals have been met with criticism from some quarters, with opponents accusing the coalition of trying to “water down” Germany’s citizenship requirements. “The commitment to our values and learning our language is mandatory,” said CDU deputy chairperson in Berlin, Falko Liecke. “The left majority in Berlin… wants to soften the prerequisite for naturalisation even further.”
However, the Berlin Senate’s proposals are in tune with the way the country is going at a national level. Among the policies currently under debate in coalition talks for Germany’s likely next government is a proposal to liberalise citizenship and naturalisation laws.
If the SPD, Green and FDP parties can agree, the residency requirements for citizenship could be shortened in Germany, meaning that a great number of people would be able to apply for citizenship in the coming years. There are also plans to end the ban on dual citizenship.